Saying Goodbye

Wonderful stay in Flagstaff, saying goodbye to the kids. http://abnb.me/EVmg/Z29wfQ4EkD

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Eating Your Way Through The Turia Garden

This is my favorite Valencia blogger. Always great info about dining, history and more! Can’t wait to try her recommendations and perhaps go on a food adventure together. 21 days to Valencia!

Jill's Urban Food Crawls

We love living in the city but I must admit that, now and again, it is nice to escape the noise and the crowds and get back to nature. Fortunately, here in Valencia we can immerse ourselves among the trees, lakes, flora and fauna only a few blocks away in the Jardin del Turia.Jardines-Turia-Sun-Lounging

The Jardin del Turia (Turia Garden) is a nine-kilometer linear green space that runs through the city. Affectionately referred to as “El Rio” by locals, the park was built on the former riverbed of the Turia river, which was diverted to the south of the city after a devastating flood in 1957.Separate paths designated for pedestrians, runners, or bikes pass through wooded areas and manicured gardens.

Jardines-Turia-Rose-garden-playground

Throughout the park you will find fountains, sculptures, playgrounds, dog parks, skate parks, athletic fields and sport facilities of all kinds. Monuments and museums of the city line the edges…

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We Did It!

We picked up our visas from the Spanish Consulate yesterday. The woman who assisted was lovely (as was the previous) and was delighted for us. She asked where we were planning to live and when we said Valencia, the gentleman next to us said, “That’s where I am from! Valencia is the best!” The Consulate employee said, “Yes, Valencia is lovely, but San Sebastian is best!” We all chuckled and told them we were looking forward to exploring all of Spain and San Sebastian was high on our list. This pleased her very much! Their warmth reminded us why we chose Spain and the kindness of its people.

But the best part of the day was spending time with our LA kids and beautiful granddaughter! Thank goodness for FaceTime! It would be a lot more difficult without being able to connect daily if necessary to see her and our newest addition (due this July in NYC) regularly, as well as our son and daughter here in Arizona. While it is very emotional to be moving far away, we know Ruthie has competent, capable, amazing parents–who promise to bring her to Spain every year!

Our singing sweetheart serenaded us on the way to dinner! 

As the final days tick by, we are reminded of lots of work still ahead–sorting, packing, selling, cleaning, storing. The saga continues…

The Beginning of Goodbye

We adore our friends and families. That being said, I believe the next few weeks saying goodbye to those we love will truly be the most difficult. Both Craig and my fathers are 89 years old. Fortunately, Craig’s dad is active and in great shape, playing golf and living quite well. My father has gone down hill since my mother’s passing in September—he misses her terribly.

Craig returned to his birthplace in Michigan to visit his father and other family. This weekend I returned to the town where my kids grew up and I lived for 20 years before moving to Phoenix in 2008 for my farewell to a few of my dearest friends.

The girls planned my going-away dinner at one of Prescott’s best restaurants, El Gato Azul. Owned and operated by phenomenal chef and restaurateur Barry Barbe. Gato is a crown jewel in the small town of Prescott, AZ. For more than a decade Barry has featured scrumptious tapas and Spanish-inspired, fusion entrees created for adventurous palates. The tiniest of eateries, tucked along-side Granite Creek and a huge office building, Gato is always packed to the hilt with locals and a few visitors lucky enough to discover this gem.

Round I – fresh, specially prepared tapas por mi y amigas.

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo

As we ordered our drinks, Barry returned to the kitchen to get creative with a Cinco de Mayo-inspired menu. He proceed to serve us four specially created tapas. The first was a duck taquito with a cilantro crème fraiche, mini chicken mole enchiladas that were savory and scrumptious. Barry filled a margarita glass with smoky and spicy colossal shrimp, and completed the first round of tapas with gazpacho-inspired salsa and chips.

We sipped our refreshing sangria and continued to enjoy our meal as we reminisced about all the special meals Barry created for us over the years including both my sons’ high school graduation parties, numerous holiday events and more.

Even though Gato was packed to the gills, Barry took the time to create three more personally inspired tapas. The next by far was totally Spanish and by far one of the extraordinary flavor—saffron croquette with a mushroom ragu and rosemary cream. OMG! The flavors melded together in delight!

Saffron Croquettes – LOVE!

Next was a roasted duck breast with goat cheese crostini with a Jezebel sauce. This sweet and spicy sauce gets its sweetness from apricot preserves and a spicy kick from mustard and horseradish.

Roasted duck & goat cheese crostini…it kept getting better!

The second round was topped off with a crab Caprese salad with fresh basil, tomatoes and mozzarella pearls.

Chunks of fresh crab meat melded beautifully with the mozzarella pearls and sweet tomatoes.

Stuffed to the gills, we had to finish our meal with a shared crème brulee that melted in our mouths.

The rest of the evening was spent walking around the quaint Courthouse Square and sharing stories of the past 25+ years and thoughts of what Craig and I will discover in Valencia. My friends reminded me at I would not have any trouble finding new, wonderful friends in Spain. (It’s my reserved and quiet personality that keeps me from meeting people…not!) I can only hope and pray they are as dear as the friendships I have developed here in Arizona.

 

The End is Near!

Holy moly! Ten years ago I thought I would be working until I was 70, now at age 58, I will be retiring in four weeks. Craig retires today! Craig was a reinvented, reimagined soul. At age 50 after a long career as a commercial photographer, with a sick wife and two teenagers, he went back to school for his third degree—this time in nursing. When we met in 2008, he was completing his master’s degree as a Nurse Practitioner. While he enjoyed many opportunities in health care, his most fulfilling was his last three years in a community health clinic serving the indigent and refugees. He would come home to tell me about families from Congo, Bhutan, Sudan, Iran, Iraq and many others—all coming to America to start a new life.

However, the thought of reinventing ourselves AGAIN is truly exciting. Moving to a new place where we know no one, hardly speak the language and discovering a new culture is both terrifying and thrilling.

Things we will miss in the US: our family and friends, Amazon Prime and Costco.

Our new way of shopping…so long Costco!

Things we won’t miss in the US: politics, racism and bigotry, our cars and Costco. It’s funny how as Americans we are taught to consume—the mass quantities of groceries, new cars, big homes—all things we are happy to leave behind in search of a local bakery, mercado, cafes on every street corner with coffee, wine and tapas. Living without a vehicle feels liberating—no gas, insurance, long commutes or traffic jams in exchange for new folding bikes to meander along town and beach bike paths, the subway, buses and trains for out-of-town travel

Valencia train station – magnificent art and 

architecture with mosaic tile everywhere!

We will arrive in Valencia with two large suitcases each, with plans to ship Craig’s art supplies as well as a few kitchen and bath items via slow boat. So while the end in the US is near, our new beginning is just around the corner. We are ready (almost) for our new adventure.